When Ohio State coach Urban Meyer thinks of football, he is reminded of his family.
CANTON, Ohio -- Ohio State University football coach Urban Meyer cannot wait for the start of the 2014 football season.
Although Meyer has been a part of hundreds of victories, multiple championships, both national and conference titles, and had multiple players make it into the National Football League, his most memorable moment on the football field will come in September.
But instead of Ohio State's first home game against Virginia Tech on Sept. 6, Meyer is looking forward to watching his son, Nate, trot onto a high-school football field this fall.
"It's come full circle," Meyer said at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club Monday. "I played high school football in Ashtabula, Ohio, college football at Cincinnati, started my coaching career at Ohio State, and am now back at Ohio State, but I'll tell you, the greatest thrill I'm going to have is this September when my son walks on a high school football field representing Ohio high school football as a player.
"When I see him jog on this field, back where it started in 1978, it'll be one of the proudest moments in my incredibly blessed life to watch him, in those beautiful jerseys, go out on a Friday night in Ohio to play high school football. How freaking cool is that? I hope it's right up here some day in Canton or Massillon for the state championship."
Nate Meyer's journey to the high school level almost never happened, as his junior high school did not have a football team. The elder Meyer, who was on a year-long break between coaching the Florida Gators and Ohio State Buckeyes, helped the school start a football team.
While the start was rough, Meyer got choked up when talking about his son's development since that first practice.
"It was the most disgusting football I've ever seen in my life," Meyer recalled as the club members chuckled. "It was a bunch of little kids that never played the game. I got in the car and was driving home and my wife said, 'How'd it go, honey?' I said, 'That's horrible football.'
"But like anything else, about three weeks later, he got pretty good. That same little guy that didn't know how to backpedal, trigger and all those things, was starting to play. He was starting to learn the team concept, put team before self. Many institutions say it, but not really teach it, about the selfless approach to the greater cause."
Meyer said his son also learned the "toughness element" of football from his first few practices.
"So, here he is, the first day the pads come on in August and I'm out there again," Meyer said. "It's a full-contact scrimmage, and he's playing safety. The gap opens and the big tailback comes running through there, and here's my dude, about 10 yards away, and I'm like, 'Oh, here we go.' He goes in, dives low and the kid runs right over him. He looks to me, and I can see the tears in his eyes.
"We've all been there. It hurts. It doesn't feel good. You're embarrassed, but what does football teach you? 'Get up.' He got off the ground, wiped those tears and got going. Two weeks later, a similar situation. That same kid with tears in his eyes, the same thing opens. The tailback runs through there, and he comes up and this time, throws it right on him. He throws it right into him. The kid goes down and nothing but teeth and a smile staring at his dad. We can't forget that."
And it is because of that smile at that moment that the elder Meyer will be the one with tears in his eyes come September.